I Believe in The Positive Power of Choice

Barry - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Entered on October 26, 2008

It is almost election day, and here I sit in the country with the greatest sense of choice on the planet, and yet, I am continuously struck by how little thought goes into these selections.

As the son of a first generation shop keeper, I was taught from an early age that every choice carries a responsibility. That EVERY action is an act of voting! If I walked up to the B & K grocery, a mom and pop little shop, and bought something, I was voting. I was telling them, and everyone that it was important to me that they existed. That I was willing to spend an extra 10 cents to make sure that they would be walking distance from my front yard. I was taught that the super market was for the big shop, but that a little something now and then should go to someone whose livelihood depended on my coming in.

As I grew, I tried to live up to my father’s role model. I would spend a few dollars more for a shirt made by an American worker because I thought the dollars were an important vote on keeping jobs here. My friends would want to hang out at the malls that were just springing up at that time, but I would talk them into Main Street because I loved having it there.

When the big box stores came I avoided them, I shopped in stores that knew my name, with owners that cared that I was there, with employees that understood the product they sold.

Now those choices are gone. The downtown is gone, the mall is supreme, the box is on top. But, there are still choices every day. People discuss and research a big screen TV choice longer than a political candidate, and even in the presidential race of 2008, this year of intense participation for a huge number of reasons, there seems little to suggest that reflection is spilling over past the Commander and Chief.

With rising unemployment there must be an hourly rate that people will want to work for, is there an equivalent dollar offset that we are willing to pay for our house, our shoes, our clothes hangers?

Tonight I thought I would launch a discussion about summer vacation around the dinner table. When we sit down and talk to our kids about where we might want to go, I see it as my job to make sure one of us brings up that we are voting with our feet. Where we go makes a statement to the people we visit. It says that we think their being there is important. That we think it is important that they are there for us and that they will be there for someone else. Every choice is a vote, what kind of milk I drink, the car I drive, even the toilet tissue I unroll and flush, I think my Dad had it pegged just right.